COPLEY: Identical twin brothers Matt and Nick Adzema started high school four years ago with athletic backgrounds in soccer, baseball and basketball.
Tennis was just a recreational activity at the time.
This weekend, tennis will be their focus as they and teammates senior Andrew Ong and sophomore Gavin Aten give Copley four state qualifiers in the Division I tournament at Ohio State University Outdoor Varsity Tennis Courts in Columbus.
“It is amazing,” Matt said. “I never thought we would get this far. Our teammates really pushed us this year and last year. It has really helped us get better as a team. We have only been playing competitive tennis for two and a half years, so this is a huge accomplishment for both of us to get to OSU.”
Ong, 17, and Aten, 16, qualified for state after placing first at the Medina sectional and Oberlin district. The Adzemas, 18, were second at sectional and third at district.
“We played baseball, soccer and basketball growing up,” said Nick, who is 5-foot-9, 155 pounds and two minutes older than Matt.
“Baseball kind of got us that swing for tennis, but we have had to make a lot of adjustments and our guys have really pushed us so much to get better. Our coach [Mark Ullman] has given us a lot of support on and off the court. It has been a great year.”
Ong helped get the Adzemas into tennis in addition to another decision.
“We didn’t make the basketball team sophomore year, and that was probably one of the best moments,” said Matt, who is 5-10, 160. “That was a good cut. It got us into tennis.”
Ong and Aten both have state experience from last year. Ong played with graduated senior Jarad Pennington, and Aten played with his brother, graduated senior Austin Aten.
“This is pretty exciting,” Ong said. “It is my senior year so going to state was definitely the goal. I was definitely nervous in past years, but I know more of what I am getting into and I know how good all the players are going to be. I am ready.”
Ong, who is 5-10, 150 pounds, is a Duquesne recruit. He has been playing tennis for seven years. Aten is 5-11, 145 pounds, and has been playing tennis for 10 years.
Ong and Aten also played soccer and basketball as kids.
“It has definitely helped a lot with my brother and I having past experience,” Aten said. “Going to state this year I will have more experience because I went last year. I will definitely be a better player this year.”
Copley’s four state qualifiers also succeed in the classroom. Aten has a 4.15 grade-point average, Ong is at 4.13, Nick Adzema is at 3.8 and Matt is at 3.6.
“Andrew and Gavin have been playing very, very well,” Ullman said. “They went from playing singles to playing doubles together. They have been meshing really well and have good chemistry. When they are playing their best, they are very hard to beat.
“They won the Medina Doubles Tournament and played well. They won the sectional [at Medina] and probably peaked in the finals. They played virtually flawlessly. I don’t know if they can play any better. That was a very good performance. They struggled a little bit at Oberlin [in the district], but it was good to have a close match and see them be able to get it together. They are rounding into form at the right time.”
Ullman marvels at what the Adzema twins have accomplished in such a short time.
“They are really amazing because they haven’t played that much formerly with tournaments,” Ullman said. “Many guys have been playing for 10 years with lessons and at clubs, but they have done really well. They have been a mainstay at our first doubles team during the season. It takes a very good team to beat them. They are always competitive … To qualify for the state tournament with relative little tournament play is quite an achievement.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.